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SAN DIEGO – San Diego County’s top doctor delivered a grim outlook Tuesday on the spread of COVID-19 in the region with the county now charting at high levels in terms of transmission, case rates and testing positivity.

“There has been a substantial rise in cases in the last two weeks,” the county’s public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. “For the eight days of Jan. 2 through Jan. 9, daily cases reported have ranged from 5,726 to 19,009 new cases.”

Wooten adds, “Over 10,000 new cases were reported each day over the weekend, Friday through Sunday.”

In total, that’s more than 49,000 new cases from the weekend while taking into account reporting delays from last week. Compared to this time last year, county models show that even amid days of shattering single-day records, the county has not yet peaked and numbers could go even higher in the time to come.

The result could cause an additional strain for local health care systems that already are asking patients not to come unless they experience more severe COVID symptoms.

“Last winter, cases started increasing slowly from the beginning of November and peaking in early January 2021,” Wooten said. “In contrast, cases remained relatively low this past November with a small rise in early December followed by a sharp increase at the end of December.”

In terms of hospitalizations, Wooten said the numbers are lower compared to last year, but they tend to increase about two to three weeks after a surge in positive cases. The county’s hospitalization rate is four times higher for unvaccinated people and the death rate is eight times higher for those who are unvaccinated, she said.

“In the most recent 30 day period before Dec. 11 through Jan. 9, the number of COVID-19 confirmed hospitalizations increased by 204%,” she said.

The number of patients in the ICU saw the same trend, increasing 87% from 92 to 168. But ICU numbers also tend to lag due to the time it takes a patient to become severely ill.

“We expect that these numbers will increase as well,” Wooten said.

Click or tap here for no-cost COVID-19 testing sites in San Diego County. Vaccination locations in the county are available here as well as through the federal government’s vaccination website, vaccines.gov.